It is with the greatest sadness that once again my wife and I express our distress, as well as immense concern and sympathy, following the tragic deaths and devastation caused by widespread flooding in Queensland and New South Wales.
Having visited many of the affected areas over the years, I am deeply shocked by the extent of this flooding across rural areas, as well as in major cities such as Brisbane and Sydney.
My wife and I were first struck by the appalling images from Lismore, and other communities in the Northern Rivers region, as well as in South East Queensland. We saw pictures of streets turned into fast flowing rivers and water levels rising to the rooftops of family homes. From the other side of the world we witnessed the valiant efforts of volunteers in small boats rescuing trapped neighbours and strangers alike. We saw interviews with people who, having rebuilt their homes and lives following previous floods, know they must go through the painful process of rebuilding again. It is incredibly distressing to learn that thousands of homes have been left uninhabitable, beyond repair.
Our heartfelt thoughts are with those families and friends who have lost loved ones, and with the many thousands of people in Queensland and New South Wales whose livelihoods and businesses have received yet another blow after the privations caused by the Covid pandemic.
These floods, along with the ferocious bushfires in Australia that shocked the world just over two years ago, remind us all that extreme weather events are becoming much more common. Climate change is not just about rising temperatures. It is also about the increased frequency and intensity of dangerous weather events, once considered rare.
So it is with profound regret that I once again express untold sympathy to Australians whose lives have been devastated by these floods, but also admiration for the selfless role played by all those involved in the rescue and recovery efforts, including those now delivering food, water and fuel to people and communities isolated by these floods. From previous floods you have endured I know there are many painful months ahead of clean-up and recovery.
My great admiration for the resilience, courage and compassion of the Australian people in moments like these knows no bounds.